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Armenia Sees Only Oligarchs in Its Dreams of Carrefour

The Armenian government is in negotiation with French supermarket giant Carrefour to open one of its grocery and department stores, such as this one in the southwestern French town of Beauzelle, in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. The company opened in 2012 its first store in the Caucasus – a Carrefour hypermarket outside of Tbilisi. (Photo: Carrefour)

Are Armenia’s oligarchs using their financial and political power to block the world’s second-largest retail empire, the French-owned Carrefour Group, from entering the country’s largely monopolized foodstuffs sector? For Armenian consumers beset by high food prices and low incomes, the question has become a matter of principle.

For roughly the past six months, billboards at one of Yerevan’s luxury shopping centers, the Dalma Garden Mall, owned by Russia-based billionaire Samvel Karapetian, have announced the arrival of a 10,000-square-meter Carrefour hypermarket, a facility combining a large supermarket with departments selling electronics, household items, clothes, toys and more.

The discount retail giant, second in size only to Wal-Mart, has already taken a first step into the South Caucasus; in 2012, along with its United-Arab-Emirates-based partner, Majid Al Futtaim, it opened a Carrefour hypermarket outside of Tbilisi, the capital of Armenia’s northern neighbor, Georgia.

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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.

Armenia Sees Only Oligarchs in Its Dreams of Carrefour

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